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Goan Coconut Curry & Butternut Squash Soup with Langostino Tails

I spent a lot of my formative years in Toronto, where I gained an appreciation for diversity that’s had an enduring impact on me. Toronto is a mecca of multiculturalism. You can find food from all over the world in various parts of the city: Greek town on Danforth, Korean in K-town, Little Italy and Corso Italia on College and St. Clair, Portugal Village at Dundas West, Japanese & Hungarian in the Annex, Polish in Roncesvalles, Latin American in Kensington Market, all kinds of Caribbean all over the place, at least two Little Indias and about six Chinatowns. What a mouthful…but that’s not all. Toronto is also a haven for regional cuisine. Toronto’s ethnic communities are really proud of their regional diversity and the city certainly encourages diversity to flourish. So if you wanted, say, SicilianAssamese, or Hunan cuisine, you could find it.

Beyond an appreciation for the international (which I have in excess at times) Toronto also imparted an appreciation for regional diversity. When I was growing up I met a lot of South Asians but very few of them were Goan. The Goans I did meet were really proud of being Goan and I always felt like they had an aura of uniqueness around them. That brings me to this meal. One of my goals with Cristina’s Kitchen is to learn about different cultures through food and of course, I especially like delving into the nuances of regional cuisine.

You can learn a lot about the different geographical and cultural influences of a culture just by looking at ingredients. For example, Goan cuisine is characterized by a lot of coconut fish curries, due to the fact that it’s in a coastal area, but what’s more interesting is that it also has significant Portuguese influence from 400 years of colonialism. There are Goan/Portuguese samosas (chamuças), chorizo (chouriço), and feijoada.

P1140498The spices used in Goan cuisine are in different proportions from other curries. There’s much more of a focus on coriander and cumin. The spice paste is fairly simple overall, especially in comparison to others I’ve made (like Indonesian Beef Rendang – that was super complex). It’s onion, garlic, ginger, chilies and ground turmeric plus toasted and ground coriander and cumin. Simple no? The toasting and grinding of your own spices may seem tedious and unnecessary but I promise it makes a difference…and the smell of fresh ground coriander is a life experience in and of itself. P1140494For this recipe I adapted the spice blends used in two recipes for Goan Fish Curry and Goan Fish Stew. Granted, the use of butternut squash may not be authentic but the seasoning is close. All I did was sauté the onion, garlic, and ginger along with the butternut squash. Once it was aromatic I added the chili, toasted and ground dry spices and turmeric and then blended with coconut milk in a food processor. I didn’t have dried Kashmiri chilies per the recipes I used for reference so I substituted sweet paprika not cayenne because they’re meant to add flavour rather than heat. I also didn’t have fresh green chilies so I sprinkled in some cayenne at the end to get the spice level to where I wanted.

P1140536I added 350 grams / 12 oz of cooked langostino tails (from Trader Joe’s) for protein because that’s what I had but you can substitute with shrimp or even veggies. You can also up the amount of langostino or shrimp to 450 grams / 1 lb.

Overall it’s really simple and definitely doable on a weeknight. The butternut squash and coconut milk base with langostino tails make for a tasty, nutritious, and hearty meal that also looks really lovely and feels very sophisticated. I like to think of it as a fall inspired take on traditional Goan cuisine.  More than that, making Goan food made me feel like I’d been let in on a secret…on the reason for that aura of uniqueness and pride amongst the Goans I’ve met. Few things compare to the feeling of getting closer to another culture by making their food. That was definitely the best part of this meal.

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Ingredients

1 large butternut squash, cooked and cubed

1-2 TBSP coconut oil or ghee for cooking

1 medium red onion, finely diced

4 cloves of garlic, mashed or minced

2 inch (5cm) piece of ginger, mashed or minced

4 tsp coriander seeds

1 tsp cumin seeds

4 dried kashmiri chilies or substitute 1 TBSP sweet paprika

1 can natural unsweetened coconut milk

2 cups of water

1 green chilli, finely diced (or substitute ground cayenne to taste)

Salt to taste

350 – 450 grams / 12 – 16 oz cooked langostino tails (or substitute same amount of cooked shrimp)

2 TBSP chopped cilantro + more for garnish

Method

 Bake butternut squash. I baked mine whole at 400 F / 200 C for about 45 minutes. You can peel, seed and before or after baking – it’s up to you. Also, this step can be done the day before or way in advance and frozen if you’re a meal prep aficionado.

Heat oil or ghee in a skillet on medium-high heat.

Add onion, garlic, and ginger. Sauté until aromatic and soft – about 8 minutes. Increase heat, add butternut squash and continue sautéing another 5 minutes or so to develop the flavours.

While sautéing, start another smaller skillet on medium heat and add the dried chilies (if using) and the coriander and cumin seeds. Heat gently for about 5 minutes or until aromatic. Grind in a mill or with a mortar and pestle.

Add the ground seeds, dried chilies (or paprika), turmeric, and coconut milk to the skillet and mix.

Pour all ingredients into food processor or blender and blend until smooth.

Return soup to a pot over medium-high heat. Add two cups of water and mix until incorporated.

Add the green chilies (or cayenne) as well as salt to your taste. I used about 2 tsp each of cayenne and salt.

Add cooked langostino tails (or shrimp) and cilantro. Mix, head tot your preference, then serve garnished with more cilantro.

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Spiced Butternut Squash & Pastured Beef Skillet

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Butternut squash season is here and I couldn’t be happier. This is by far one of my favourite meals. I make different iterations of it quite often, especially for brunch on lazy Sundays (and more than once for dinner on lazy weeknights). I’ve varied my protein selection quite often (corned beef, bacon, ground beef, ground turkey) but I’ve generally stuck to regular white potatoes as my main starch. I didn’t even think about swapping in other starches until we started cleaning up our diet with whole30 that I realized that plain white potatoes are not the most nutritious or exciting option. I think I may have shied away from other options because I wasn’t a big fan of sweet potatoe before. Thankfully those days are gone.

In addition to now loving sweet potato, I’ve also discovered the amazing taste and nutritional benefits of butternut squash.  It has a much milder flavour than sweet potato but still enough sweetness to blend beautifully in heavily spiced preparations. Also, it has half the calories and half the carbs of white potato and sweet potato but about the same amount of fiber, potassium, protein, vitamin A, calcium, and magnesium? As a bonus, it also has almost 10 times the vitamin C. Isn’t that amazing?

You’ll need to cook the squash beforehand but it’s really straightforward. You can peel or dice it either before cooking or after. I prefer after because it’s easier to work with for me, but it depends on your preferences.

If you’re peeling and dicing beforehand: peel the squash with a vegetable peeler, cut lengthwise first and scoop out seeds then dice the squash into 1 cm x 1 cm cubes, toss with olive oil or ghee and bake at 190 C / 375 F for about 30 minutes.

If you’re peeling and dicing afterward: cut the squash lengthwise, scoop out seeds and pulp, brush with ghee or olive oil, and bake at 375 for approximately 45 minutes. You can do this in advance. Cooked dice squash will keep in the fridge for a few days or in the freezer for 6 – 12 months. We used the squash in this skillet for two different meals, sautéed with kale for dinner the night before and in the skillet shown here for brunch the next day.

Like I said above, you can substitute any meat. I think next time I’ll also add more vegetables. One thing I never change is that I always add a pinch of curry powder. It makes all the difference.

Also, this skillet is paleo and whole30 compliant.

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Ingredients

6 oz 80/20 grassfed ground beef
1 cup cooked butternut squash finely cubed
4 large eggs
2 TBSP chives diced
1 tbsp ghee
1/2 yellow onion diced
1 tsp + 1/4 tsp dried parsley flakes
1/4 tsp dried summer savoury
1/2 tsp curry powder
dash of cayenne
S&P to taste

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Method

Preheat oven to 400 F / 200 C
Sautee diced onion in ghee on medium heat until translucent
Add ground beef, increase heat to high and cook until browned but not quite done (approximately 7-8 minutes) while stirring frequently
Add butternut squash and continue stirring frequently. You want to try to get a bit of char on the squash without overcooking it
Add 1 tsp parsley flakes, savoury, curry, cayenne and S&P
Mix well to incorporate spices
Crack the eggs onto the mix, spacing them evenly
Sprinkle tops of eggs with S&P to taste before baking (it might not stick after)
Put skillet into oven and bake for 12-15 minutes or until eggs are no longer runny
Remove from oven and sprinkle liberally with remaining parsley flakes and chives
Serve hot with a side of tomatoes to make a more complete meal

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